Saudi Kingdom Holding IPO to open before July

RIYADH - Kingdom Holding Co. plans an initial public offering before July, owner Prince Alwaleed bin Talal said in comments published late on Friday, in what could be the Gulf’s largest ever listing.

By (Reuters)

Published: Sat 26 May 2007, 5:48 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 8:37 PM

“The objective is to be a publicly traded company in Saudi Arabia before the end of this quarter,” the billionaire prince, also Citigroup Inc.’s C.N largest individual shareholder, told Middle East Economic Digest in an interview published on its Web site.

Alwaleed did not say how large a stake he would sell in the IPO but The Sunday Times reported last August he is thought to be planning to float a 30 percent stake in Kingdom Holding, worth about $7 billion, which would make it the biggest IPO in the Arab Gulf region’s history.

The shares would be listed on Saudi Arabia’s main stock index .SASI. Under new market regulations, the pricing of the IPO will be set by a book-building process.

”It will be to Saudi citizens ... Either retail or institutional investors. The IPO process will be the same as for any other company,” Alwaleed said.

Alwaleed’s spokesperson Heba Fatani and officials at Samba Financial Group 1090.SE, which was appointed financial adviser for the IPO, could not be reached for comment.

A market source familiar with Kingdom’s business said institutions would take the bulk of the offering.

“It will be challenging for an IPO of this size to be absorbed by individuals alone. With his reputation and influence, Alwaleed can easily convince the majority of private, and even state-owned, to add Kingdom shares to their portfolios,” said the source who requested anonymity.

The IPO would be a qualitative leap for the Arab world’s largest bourse where the majority of listed private firms struggle to generate value for shareholders, said Abdulhamid Alamri, member of the Saudi Economic Association.

“This is the flagship of the private sector in the kingdom. Kingdom Holding will rival listed state-owned firms and will restore confidence in stocks of private firms,” Alamri said.

Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index slumped 52.5 percent last year, the worst-performing among 81 indices tracked by Birinyi Associates Inc., a US stock market research company.

The index is down another 2.8 percent so far this year.

“We feel the Saudi market is becoming more mature. It is not mature yet, but it is maturing,” Alwaleed said. “Plus, we always wanted to go public. I always wanted to assist my country, so that is why I decided to put everything here.”

More news from Business